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Cosmoteer's ship-building & space-faring sends our imagination to the stars

Walternate Realities invites players to craft the starship of their dreams and use it to survive a dangerous galaxy in Cosmoteer.

Image via Walternate Realities
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When the day comes that civilizations stretch their grasp toward the stars and reach beyond the boundaries of planets, who knows what spacecraft will look like then? Cosmoteer has some ideas, but it would rather give you the tools to imagine that future for yourself. This space-faring galactic ship builder and sim offers players the chance to build their own functioning spaceship from a multitude of tools and parts and then take it into the great unknown to chase glory and fame. It’s going to be spending time in Steam Early Access as Walternate Realities continues its development, but I got to try it ahead of its early access arrival and came away excited to keep building my vessels to meet its interstellar challenges.

A vast galaxy awaits you

Cosmoteer puts you in control of a mercenary ship and crew. Your purpose in the game is to take on jobs from various stations throughout the galaxy. The job types included in this build featured mining, supply delivery, sector exploration, or pirate hunting. You could also just go freeform adventuring in a sandbox-style mode. Each mission brings you credits, fame, and supplies for your ship. You can use those rewards to unlock blueprints for upgraded ship parts, hire on additional crew, and generally recraft your ship to become stronger and play the way you want it to play.

The game offers a vast variety of ways in which to craft and rework your ship as you go. You can obtain laser weapons, cannons, missile launchers, and more to boost your offense, bigger energy reactors to power the increasingly complex upgrades to your ship, and shield reactors and thrusters to give your ship more defenses and speed. You can even unlock supply factories with which to make certain types of ammunition on board your ship and make it increasingly self-sufficient.

The crafting tool is a real star of this show. Anytime you want, anywhere in space, you can open the crafting menu and start playing around with your ship’s layout and facilities. You can even pause the whole game while you create. It’s a little confusing at first because your facilities are mostly powered by energy and your crew. If that big laser you want can’t be placed close enough to the crew quarters or power reactor, you can’t operate it. Even so, Cosmoteer allows a lot of freedom and lets you make mistakes as you learn. In the sandbox mode, you can even play around with ship builds and layouts without worry of credits or supplies running out so you can really experiment and see what kind of outlandish ship you can come up with if you want. You can also just take one of the game’s stock ships and expand from the examples the game gives you as you see fit.

Spaceship combat in Cosmoteer.
Source: Walternate Realities

I like the variety of things you can do with your ship in Cosmoteer, too. When I got my hands on a mining laser, it really boosted my ship’s capabilities in fun and unexpected ways. Not only did I find out that you can cut through space rocks to get at their juicy metals and resources, but you can also use it to cut through ships. When you engage a pirate or other hostile spacecraft in combat, you can kill the crew of the ship without blowing the ship itself up. That allows you to send your crew out to salvage anything you need from the defeated enemy vessel. It was delightful seeing my mining laser cut dead enemy ships apart so my crew could go collect the spoils.

That leads us to combat in the game. Cosmoteer’s ship combat can be simple if you just want to pack your ship to the gills with weaponry and let it loose on any enemy you face. However, you can also be far more tactical. The thrifty captain might target an enemy ship’s power reactor. Kill the reactor, and you kill the oxygen. Kill the oxygen, and you kill the crew and have yourself a nice little ghost ship to deconstruct. You can also target the enemy’s weapons to limit their offense, their shields to cut off their defenses, or their thrusters to limit their escape, just to name a few. Cosmoteer also has multiplayer PVP, and though I didn’t get to try it in my time with the game, it feels like these focused attack options and the ability to single out components is going to matter a lot in player-vs-player skirmishes.

Custom spacecraft cruising the cosmos

Spacecraft customization in Cosmoteer
Source: Walternate Realities

Cosmoteer is only about to enter early access and it already feels promising when it comes to its gameplay and creative tools. It features simple stencils for ships if you want to grab one and go, but once you feel comfortable, building out your ship from the norm is where Cosmoteer gets ridiculously fun. Whether you want to focus on combat, pursue more economic objectives, or just explore, there are options to make your ship truly your own. With mod support also available and plenty of options to play in both the game’s career and sandbox modes, Cosmoteer feels like it’s shoving off for its galactic voyage on the right foot.


This preview is based on an early digital copy supplied by the publisher. Cosmoteer launches in Steam Early Access on PC on October 24, 2022.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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